“The Silence Breakers” On Sexual Harassment Named Time’s “Person Of The Year”
December 8th, 2017
“The silence breakers,” alluding to those women who spoke out against sexual assault and helped kickstart the global discourse on assault, have been chosen as the Time’s Person of the Year 2017.
The Person of the Year (called Man of the Year or Woman of the Year until 1999) is a yearly issue of the Times Magazine from the United States that aims to feature and profile people, groups, ideas, or objects that “for better or for worse… has done the most to influence the events of the year.”
Featured in the Cover
The cover features five women, and the issue has testimonies and stories of others, including assertions by Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor Terry Crews. Two celebrities pictured- Ashley Judd, the first to speak against Harvey Weinstein, and Taylor Swift, who recently won a civil case against an ex-DJ who she said had assaulted her. Isabel Pascual, a 42-year-old strawberry picker from Mexico (not her real name) is also on the cover, alongside Adama Iwu, a 40-year-old corporate lobbyist in Sacramento; and Susan Fowler, 26, a former Uber engineer whose testimonies brought down Uber’s CEO. Many people are identified as part of the movement.
The Editor-in-chief of the magazine, Edward Felsenthal, stated that the #MeToo movement had been the “fastest-moving social change we’ve seen in decades, and it began with individual acts of courage by women and some men too,” on a The New York Times article.
After the Person of The Year was announced, Tarana Burke, who started the “#MeToo” campaign years ago, and the actress Alyssa Milano, who helped with giving it a prominent audience recently, spoke about what was still left to do to deal with such cases and allegations.
The #MeToo campaign started with actor Alyssa Milano, one of Weinstein’s critics, who wrote: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Close to 68,000 people have responded to her tweet, and the #MeToo hashtag has been used close to a million times in the US, Europe and the Middle East.
On the Today show, they spoke about what is next for the movement. Ms Burke said, “I’ve been saying from the beginning that it’s not just a moment, it’s a movement,” “I think now the work begins. The hashtag is a declaration. But now we’re poised to stand up and do the work.”
Ms Milano agreed, clearly stating her hopes from the movement. “I want companies to take on a code of conduct, and I want companies to hire more women, I want to teach our children better,” she said. “These are all things that we have to set in motion, and as women, we have to support each other and stand together and say that’s it, we’re done, no more.”
The discourse on assault began after prominent news houses such as The New Yorker ran pieces about alleged allegations of sexual harassment and assault against famous Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. This was what jump-started the discussions on prominent men abusing their power, as women came forward in large numbers to narrate their experiences of trauma due to these events. They caused the reprimanding of many influential men in power, such as comedian Louis C. K. (who has been accused of openly masturbating in front of women), Matt Lauer (who is one of NBC’s famous personalities and was fired only last week after allegations of sexual harassment from a junior), Dustin Hoffman (who was accused of harassment by an actress on the sets of Death Of A Salesman), to name a few. The Times Runner-Up Person Of The Year 2017, US President Donald Trump himself was accused of sexual misconduct by more than ten women during his campaign as president. Trump earlier even announced the decision on Twitter, stating that he turned the title down, having won the title last year. Times quickly issued a statement denying anything of the sort.